Updated: 3 July 2018
We have been reporting and lecturing for over 10 years why the internet is NOT your friend. It is a convenient partner, but with any partnership, you have to keep some safety and security issues in mind.
Data brokerage is a BILLION dollar business and YES, most every organisation from Equifax, Facebook and even the government will make your information known to the world and anyone willing to buy it. In the “olden” days of analog landlines and cable, companies purchased “hard lists.” Now, all they have to do is scrub the internet for vital data they can sell about you. YOUR data IS for sale.
If you vote, buy property, get a traffic ticket, go to court, report theft to the police, sign up for offers, include your personal data on social media sites, your personal data is already compromised. Unfortunately, you cannot get a “do over,” once your personal data is out there, BUT you can master the art of complete SEPARATION.
What to do moving forward? Here are some steps we have tested.
🌻I HATE lawsuits. I had the opportunity to join over 30 such lawsuits over the years as a consumer, but decided to join none…UNTIL now. About the Class Action Lawsuit here.
What is at stake in this Class Action lawsuit? The right of ALL consumers not to be PUSHED AROUND by a company, quick to blame others, for their lack of foresight and leadership. The recent changes to this policy was a “knee jerk” reaction to a long standing returns policy they knew nothing about and a long standing failure of executing that policy. This is NOT a consumer problem, it is a failed leadership problem.
For years, the company honoured returns, without question. I once asked a telephone agent, “What exactly does the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee mean?” She responded by stating it was more how I was “FEELING” about the product. It had nothing do with the product itself. This conversation left me with the impression that L.L. Bean did not understand, nor could fully interpret their own returns policy. “Feeling?” I said. So does that mean, I could return my product at any time if I was not “feeling” connected to it? The telephone agent confirmed this.
At the time of this conversation which was in 2016, L.L. Bean still required some sort of proof of purchase. Then, I heard others returning items with no proof of purchase. This led me to believe that the left side of L.L. Bean did not know what the right side was doing. You had telephone agents and stores executing two completely different “returns” policy. What L.L. Bean should have done from the VERY START was require “Proof of purchase” on ALL THEIR PRODUCTS. Even if their computer system only tracked receipts back four years, customers should be responsible for holding on to their purchase receipts.
As a direct result of L.L. Bean not understanding or correctly interpreting their returns policy, they have created their own “fraudulent returns mess.” This is NOT the consumer’s fault, but a company that failed to “strategically” and purposefully instruct all their employees on the handling and return of products purchased by LEGITIMATE customers. This is not the first time honest and law abiding consumers paid the price for companies who failed to understand their own policy and clearly define this for everyone. THIS IS NOT the case of a few bad customers. This is a case of dumb executives and just BAD LEADERSHIP.
Whilst I am a self-professed "mouthpiece," I am a strategically thorough individual who believes in the evidentiary process. In other words, I examine facts, data and first person accounts before jumping to any conclusion.
Whilst there have been extensive sourced coverages on how to get verified on Twitter, legitimate stories of disappointment and reflection were also posted, along with their verification "rejection" or "denial" emails. In EVERY instance, the denial emails were computerised, duplicate versions that said EXACTLY the same thing, with no explanation of why the account holder was denied @verified. (updated 17 Oct 2017: Please note, we came to this conclusion after examining over 100 such Twitter denial emails, including David Bradford (@dsbradford) who allowed us to link to his personal journey to get Twitter verified. He also provides some interesting insights.)
Our six month investigation concluded that Twitter is using algorithm, similar to an HRIS in human resources that filters through key words and phrases to select the ideal candidates and filters out those who don't "meet certain criteria." It is highly doubtful that Twitter has the "manpower" or funds to hire staffers to do the job of the computer, based on the large volume of requests they receive. Unfortunately, by so doing, Twitter has denied volumes of "legitimate" and worthy accounts.
Twitter wrote on their blog dated 19 July 2016 that "Verified accounts on Twitter allow people to identify key individuals and organizations on Twitter as authentic, and are denoted by a blue badge icon." They continue by stating, "Typically this includes accounts maintained by public figures and organizations in music, TV, film, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas." They continue by mentioning that @CDCGov was one of the first verified, and even @kimkardashian was recognized. Well, we know what occurred in Paris, which goes to show that "oversharing" on social media is not always a good thing. As Bill Cunningham, the famed New York Times street fashion photographer once stated, "It's the clothes. Not the celebrity and not the spectacle." My sentiments exactly!
In this "celebrity-obsessed" world, where a picture of a pancake by XYZ celebrity receives 1.5M retweets, Twitter @verified is shutting out interesting voices from "real" people. Many of these account holders are long term Twitter users, putting out quality tweets, not regurgitated noise. Whilst they may not write for @forbes, work for @vogue, Oscar nominated or winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, they represent the cultural diversity in our society, with unique perspectives and stories that deserve a platform worth their time and energy.
By tricking users into thinking they have a chance to have their profile verified with the white check in the cloud, is deceitful and a public fraud. By Twitter's own press release, they are looking for "certain criteria," which does not include the "general" public, so why conduct a PR cattle call, when they know that less than 1% will be approved? It is because Twitter wants to "Wag the Dog," perhaps not to the degree of Dustin Hoffman's political "spin" film, where fabricated war covered up a presidential sex scandal. Twitter needs a PR boost or distraction from their bleeding financial mess.
Here is one conjecture we believe may be the catalyst for Twitter to open up @verified to the public. Twitter is bleeding financially. Since its IPO launch in 2013, it has been a walking wounded, evidenced from 2014 to the present. The stock has been trading in the teens since early 2016. Interestingly, the stock fell to a new low, trading at $13.90 in May 2016, two months before the announcement opening @verified to the public. It is now hovering above $18.60 as of this report. We surmise the public @verified was a marketing ploy to garner more interest in the micro-blogging site that has flatlined, with negative performance on return on assets (ROA) and 10% dip on Return on equity (ROE) in 2016.
Contrast Twitter with Facebook whose IPO launched in 2012 and stock hovering north of $173.70 as of this report. Facebook did not feel the need, at this time, to open up their verification to everyone. (Updated 17 Oct 2017. At the time of this report, the Facebook help centre posted a DIFFERENT response to this question, "How do I request a gray verification badge for my Page?" Facebook answer: "This feature isn't available to everyone right now." (screen shot dated Sunday, 15 October at 06:33). They changed that response to now posted steps to verify your business page). The gray badge are for non-celebrities. In researching this recent Facebook update, and notable clicks to this blog, it is logical that Facebook was notified that they needed to change their help centre page. For this reason, blogs and main stream media notate updates, omissions and errors to previous posts to ensure the integrity of the data and information provided to the public.
Bottomline: A Twitter @verified account, just as a Facebook verified badge, won't make me more inclined to click on the page or profile and connect. Social Media to me is not about the celebrity. It is about connecting with "real" people in the "real" world, even if it is a virtual world. It is still a cultural community. I am an "authentic" person and I don't need a near bankrupt micro-blogging site to tell me otherwise.
Addendum (added 18 Oct 2017): In response to 32 direct email queries related to, "Did you try to get verified?" The short answer: No. The Long answer: Yes - The INTEGRITY of the experiment is critical, so in order to fully understand a process, you must experience it for yourself. The information I supplied Twitter, however, would not win me a verified status. Putting together some obscure links (instead of actual main stream articles written about me and articles I wrote), with no bio, no photo, no header photo, is an automatic rejection from Twitter's algorithm; and YES, I too was not verified based on what was submitted. Weirdly the email stated to try again in 30 days. No thanks. I concluded the experiment. The End. I believe social media is about "inclusion" NOT "segregation." The white check should represent ALL legitimate trusted accounts based on a true authentication process.
Most people think of "Data" as digital; but there are other types of data that also needs securing. They are the interpersonal stories you divulge to your "Friends," Family and social media strangers. They could be secrets; disagreements; private conversations and; rumours you help to spread. Regardless, there is a fine line between "Public" and "Private" information.
In life, one has to be keenly aware that NOT everyone has your best interest at heart. Whilst the word "Friendship" gets thrown around a lot, MOST everyone are just acquaintances...until they have been tested. The best kept secret is the one you keep to yourself. It is very rare that you encounter anyone who is that diligent about keeping things private. "Privacy" is an allusion and; private information in the wrong hands, could do irreparable damage. "Lose lips sink ships."
The government is notorious for spilling "State" secrets. Companies are consistently leaking information to the media and then pretending they knew nothing about it. Celebrities and PR agencies do the same. Your so called "Friends" may use information you previously provided in an argument. People are natural "drudger uppers" of the past. Some can dig back 10 years of information you told them "In Private," to be used against you during an argument in the present.
In law enforcement, the Miranda Rights is stated to prevent "Self incrimination." An attorney would always advise their "Client" NOT to say a word and; to only speak in the presence of their attorney. Most criminals don't understand this simple concept of NOT incriminating yourself. Most people, it seems, can't shut their mouth. Part of the Miranda Rights states that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Remember this! Then apply it to your own life.
Humans posture to make themselves feel "Self" important. Animals posture to get a mate so they could procreate and carry on their species. The latter is about survival. The former is just a waste of time and resources. Humans can learn a lot from dolphins, birds, bears and even hyenas. The interpersonal communications process is very specific and created for survival in most animal species. The intervals are also short, which means they get their objective across in a short span of time. They pass on historical knowledge to their off spring to better their species. They do not use it as baggage either, as we humans have a propensity to do.
In short, the world is waiting for you to divulge your personal data, so why not do the opposite?
Related: Manipulative & Controlling in SMART Women
I am not a subject matter expert on "Relationships." I leave that to the real experts and so-called "Therapists." I am, however, very versed in cultural communications, subcultures and social anthropology. I have been studying the human race, communities, kinships and; the disengaged for over twenty years.
This year alone, I have received enough emails about the subject of "Relationships" to warrant its own shelf in my library. It is true that in order to be authentic, all subject matters related to the "Human condition" must be a relevant topic to be explored here.
In the basal form, ALL species have a need to connect, partner and procreate. In humans, the latter is up for debate. Each generation puts a different spin on the meaning of relationship. In our grandparents era, it was not an uncommon idea to support "arranged" marriages. Divorce was also frowned upon and; males dominated their species.
Today, women make up at least 51% of the divorce populace. They are twice as likely then men to initiate the divorce. One might say we have come a long way...BUT I am a proponent of traditional simplicity.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
There is nothing wrong with a man opening the door for you, ladies! Do not get rattled about him pulling out the chair for you either. In a study of over 300 women last year, we discovered that women ages 25-30 years old wanted to bring back the traditional ideas of dating and marriage, with some modifications, of course. Women 45-50 did not think it ideal or necessary. The women in the former group sought out women like Dutchess Catherine (nee Middleton) as a role model.
The modifications women wanted in their relationships were career and business driven. More women start businesses today. More women are making more money than their counterparts in life and at home. More women are also sitting at the table as CEOs and "Captains of Industry." All this success, however is not always well received.
It takes a self assured man or woman (depending on the relationship dynamics) to accept and continually support a woman with a high powered career and/or ambitions. Therefore, it is VERY relevant to select your mate as if you were buying a house or a new car.
Try renting first and exploring the neighbourhood before a major purchase (unless it is an investment property) and; test driving a vehicle BEFORE signing the contract. By this, I mean marriage.
LOVE IS LOVE
I heard arguments of "love" vs. being "in love." Here is one more case why relationships fail. If you are analyzing EVERY little thing and looking at every different angle, your mind will be overloaded with so many false/positives that you will sabotage your own relationship. Women have a propensity to do this more often than men, however; both sexes are NOT excused from doing it.
The "best" partner is the one that closely matches your ideal and virtue. You could be polar opposites, i.e. he/she is extroverted and you are introverted; but you share a common thread such as volunteerism, fiscal responsibility, family etc.
A LESSON FROM OMA AND OPA
The most important aspect of ANY relationship is to accept your mate for who they are and NOT what you want them to be. If they are the kind that needs their "alone time," let them be.
I remember my Oma would go off on her own and Opa would let her. They would pickup thereafter, have dinner and retire early. One evening, my Oma did not come back and Opa got worried and called on the radio to the coast guards, thereby EVERYONE on the island with a radio heard all the commotion. Oma, being a proud and private lady, got so angry and almost chewed his head off. My Opa shivered and said meekly, "I was so worried about you, darling!" My Oma affectionately replied, "You silly goose, don't you know I always come back to you?" That evening, Oma was over a neighbour's house making Rosehip jam, my Opa's favourite!
HOW TO MAINTAIN A SUSTAINABLE RELATIONSHIP
1. Avoid false/positives by shutting down the noise and STOP making up stories.
2. Communication is key. Talk it out...DON'T shout it out.
3. Space matters. Even if they say they don't need it, give it to them anyways.
4. NO ONE is perfect, neither me, you or anyone else. ACCEPT IT!
5. Opposites can attract, but the common thread is the bond.
Twitter is targeting this Thursday morning as the trading day for their much awaited and talked about IPO, or initial public offering. They will set the price, estimated between $23 and $25 Wednesday evening. This is more than the $17-$20 originally estimated. This will raise about $2 billion, at the high end. They are offering 70 million shares, indicating a market value as much as $13.6 billion. Their symbol is TWTR on the New York Stock Exchange. Opening bell at 9:30 am.
By industry accounts, this IPO launch is probably the most anticipated since Facebook last year. If you feel you missed the boat on Facebook (FB), don't worry. You can buy up the stock on its way down or up, depending on your risk tolerance and ready cash. It was trading at $50.10 at the time of this report.
INVESTING STRATEGY FOR THE NEWBIES!
Investing in stocks can be fun and rewarding. I would, however, caution, NEVER to use your life savings, emergency fund or funds you don't have. Investing is also NOT for the faint hearted. Stock picking is a game of strategy AND lifestyle. Don't pick stocks in an industry you know nothing about. Speculative investing is a dangerous practice, if you don't know what you are doing.
I have been investing in Technology stocks since 1987, BUT I don't own a lick of shares in Microsoft. I pick what interests me (Facebook), what I use (Apple) and bank on innovative companies (Google) that keep pushing the envelope (Samsung).
Stock picking is part strategy, part lifestyle and a whole lot of patience. I am not a day trader. I sit on my shares for the long haul, occasionally selling for other gains (real estate). I always use money I will NEVER miss. This discipline was the BIGGEST lesson I have ever learned because anyone who has traded will tell you that you WILL LOSE MONEY, somewhere in the process, GUARANTEED!
The great thing about free falling stocks, i.e. Facebook (FB) last year, is you CAN buy MORE of it on the way down. I bought it at $40 and bought some more of it at $24. I am NEVER glued to a stock's day to day performance. I am in-tuned with the company, their business model and executive leadership. I am banking on the people behind the ticker NOT the stock, itself. A company's valuation is also critical to my bottom line.
Contrary to popular MYTH, you DON'T need to be rich to invest. Did you know that one share will get you to the party? That is correct, you will be invited to the annua.l shareholder's meeting. So, if you want to see The Zuck live at next year's meeting, buy one share of Facebook (FB).
On the OTHER HAND, if you want to infuse your retirement and/or lifestyle, typically 1,000 shares might do it. BUT, there is NEVER a guarantee that will even happen either.
HOW WILL TWITTER LAUNCH?
With this stated, you should educate yourself on how IPOs work. The firms handling the roll out of Twitter include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. IPOs are first offered to clients of these firms, who then sell shares. Individual. high networth clients of these firms may also have access to the IPO. The shares than trickle down to online brokerage houses. You might also have access to them through your mutual funds company. BUT, ALL of this will not be clear until the stock actually starts trading on the exchange.
SHOULD YOU INVEST IN TWITTER?
"Securities," unlike your savings and checking accounts, DO NOT fall under the FDIC protective status. "Securities" are NOT guaranteed. That is why stock trading carries enormous RISK, and in the process, you may lose EVERYTHING. Please refer to my previous statement on the third paragraph, that investing is NOT for the faint hearted.
In order to fully answer this for yourself, DO YOUR RESEARCH! The cons play out here. One in particular is that the microblogging company has not turned a profit. I would prefer to see the balance sheet before I invest in any company. I also would caution against hype. Facebook was a great example of this. Anything "red hot" might not always be a good idea, initially.
How to increase your investment Quotient:
1. Invest in what you know
2. NEVER use money you don't have
3. Don't get wrapped up with daily stock minutia
4. BANK on the business model and executive leadership.
5. Speculative investing is a dangerous practice.
YOUR BOTTOM LINE:
Please weigh the RISK, the HYPE and YOUR CASH!
Finger pointing continues in Washington D.C, with not much else getting accomplished.
In a recent hearing to understand "What went wrong" with the Obamacare website rollout, members of congress heard from a procession of contract "Players" who blamed everyone, EXCEPT themselves. After raking in over $1.5 billion dollars of American taxpayer money, these same contractors did NOTHING to fix or remedy the issues.
The cost to American Taxpayers
This is NOT a case of "You get what you paid for" since more than $1.5 billion dollars either exchanged hands and/or allocated on contract. The contract "Players" include CGI Federal Inc. (CGI Group, $93.7M), Quality Software Services Inc ($55.1M), National Government Services (Wellpoint, $31.6M), MITRE Group ($22M), Genova Technology ($16M), Terremark Federal Group (Verizon, $15.5M) and SERCO ($1.2B)
Some members of congress, in particular Senator John McCain, proposed loading Airforce One with the smartest brains from the technology industry to fix the problem.
WHO'S BLAMING WHOM
Cheryl R. Campbell, Senior Vice President of CGI Federal, a unit of CGI Group stated, "Unfortunately, in systems this complex, with so many concurrent users, it is not unusual to discover problems that need to be addressed once the software goes into a live production environment." She then proceeded to blame another contractor, Quality Software Services.
Andrew M. Slavitt, a United Health Care executive responsible for Quality Software Services, in turn, blamed the Obama administration. for a "Late decision requiring consumers to register for an account before they could browse for insurance products." He also blamed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for not fixing coding errors.
John Lau, a Program Director for Serco, yet another contractor, testified that they had seen an increase of paper applications. Serco's responsibility was to enter the data into the government's computerized eligibility system. He testified they were experiencing same issues as the consumers trying to use the system.
LIARS, LIARS, PANTS ON FIRE!
On 10th September 2013, these SAME contractors testified and assured the committee that they were "Ready to handle the surge of users" when the Federal Exchange opened on 1st October 2013.
CONTRACTORS ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES
A contractor should never pawn off their responsibility IF they were hired to do a specific job. They should work as a "teamplayer," in unison with other contractors working on components of the same project, and NOT as an "independent" entity. There should be autonomy and freedom to create within one's own expertise, BUT that information MUST be shared among ALL the contractors, in order to create an efficient END RESULT! Unfortunately, these contractors worked not in unison and as a team, but individually, without being checked, resulting in one BIG MESS!
Unfortunately, fixing a problem will cost MORE money than implementing a working solution RIGHT, the first time.
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